Trump Taj Mahal Strike Shows No Signs Of Ending In Atlantic City

The Taj Mahal work stoppage continues in Atlantic City as UNITE HERE Local 54 President Bob McDevitt writes a letter to Taj management.

Nearly two weeks have passed since members of Atlantic City UNITE HERE Local 54 labor union launched their strike against the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

According to the most recent reports, there doesn’t seem to be any compromise in the near future. The resort has offered a deal that it says will expire on Monday.

Photographs of the strike show people standing in front of the Taj, holding signs expressing their frustrations, including one poster with a drawing of the Grim Reaper bearing the a photo face of CEO Carl Icahn.

The Local 54’s Facebook page features a photo of members holding a banner that reads, “Our city and our families depend on our healthcare.”

The background: Taj only casino to enter into strike

Local 54 designated July 1 as the day its members would strike if five of the city’s eight casinos refused to renegotiate existing employment contracts. Four of the casinos reached a tentative resolution, while the Taj Mahal did not. As a result, the threat of a strike became a reality on July 1.

In some ways, the Taj strike wasn’t a surprise. Workers at the famed casino did not receive health insurance or vacation time despite the casino’s documented jump in gambling revenue during the first quarter of 2016. Numbers for the Taj were poor in May, however.

Conflict over health care dates back to 2014

Nearly every labor dispute includes a war of words between employers and employees; the Taj strike is no different. Over the past 18 months, the two sides have sparred through pointed letters stating each group’s grievances. The root of the issue dates back to the Taj’s 2014 bankruptcy case, in which a judge terminated health care and pension benefits.

Icahn expressed his opinions in a March 2015 letter addressed to Unite-HERE’s Local 54. The billionaire’s main attack focused on the union’s health care plan, which, according to Icahn, netted the organization $140 million.

To further the sting, Icahn noted the Taj filed for bankruptcy twice as the union’s “leadership continues to demand that the Taj makes exorbitant contributions” to the health plan.

Icahn likened union to crime family

Icahn went as far as to compare the union’s tactics to the era when organized crime rings would throw bricks through the windows of shopkeepers who didn’t pay up.

“The only real difference here is that instead of throwing bricks through the Taj Mahal’s windows, your union instead organizes strikes, picketing, boycotts and other attacks to deter customers from patronizing the Taj Mahal,” Icahn wrote.

Union boss writes letter of his own

Earlier this week, Local 54 President Bob McDevitt penned a polemic against the Taj, focusing on lack of health care for hard-working casino employees.

“This company took health care off the table 20 months ago,” McDevitt wrote in his letter. “Can you imagine what it is like to work in this city — to spend your days doing the back-breaking work of cleaning hotel rooms or walking all over the casino floor serving drinks in high heels — without health insurance?”

McDevitt went on to point out that workers at the Tropicana receive adequate health care, yet the only thing the Taj could muster up for its employees was a health plan that offered “essentially half of what every other property agreed to.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, Tropicana Entertainment President Tony Rodia, whose organization runs the Taj Mahal, offered the company’s side of the story in relation to the health care plan about which McDevitt complained.

“The company offered to fund a health insurance plan that was offered by Unite Here but was not quite as rich as the plan at the other AC casinos,” Rodia was quoted as saying. “But it did provide medical insurance for all union members and their families. In addition, the Taj Mahal would have extended health insurance to all non-union members, as well.”

duckeesue / Shutterstock.com

Showboat Is Back In Business In Atlantic City As A Resort, Not A Casino

In the race to get shuttered Atlantic City resorts back in operation, Showboat beat out Revel. This time, though, there’s no casino.

In the race to get shuttered Atlantic City resorts back in operation, Showboat beat out Revel.

Showboat officially reopened on Friday, this time with no gambling options for the resort that closed its doors back in 2014.

Other than the fact that AC’s casinos seemed to have found equilibrium again after four gaming establishments closed two years ago, it’s one of the few bits of good news for the troubled town.

Showboat, version 2.0

Showboat had planned to hold a soft open for its newest iteration. But after Revel’s soft opening didn’t actually happen last month, there was at least a chance Showboat would encounter the same fate.

But the resort did indeed open its doors on a limited basis this week.

For right now, Showboat is basically just a hotel — with 852 functioning rooms — and no plans to become a casino again. It’s also retaining the name for the time being, with plans to rebrand in 2017.

The Associated Press reported on the reopening:

“It removes one of the eyesores,” Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s a big day for the city of Atlantic City. It’s a win.”

The opening was done without much pomp or circumstance and Blatstein told The Press of Atlantic City he didn’t want to “over promise and under-deliver.”

You can see video from the launch here.

What’s next for Showboat and Blatstein?

The plans, as of now, appear to be just that, but reopening at all is a major step for Showboat, which also has a restaurant and coffeehouse in operation.

There are plans for more places to eat and other entertainment options at the property.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, here is what else Blatstein has in store for the area:

Blatstein’s other major investment in Atlantic City, the Pier at Caesars, which he turned into the Playground, has seen some rocky moments. Blatstein said Friday that the Wav Nightclub, which had occupied the former 39 North concert space that failed last summer, had once again “transitioned” and would now be a comedy club with other acts as well. The rest of the space features several bars and retail stores.

The one bright spot for AC

The reopening of Showboat is welcome news for a city under fire. News for AC has generally not been good in recent weeks and months:

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

 

WSOP.com Lets Online Poker Players Go Heads Up For Leaderboard Prizes

Players at WSOP can win a share of thousands of dollars just for winning heads-up sit and go poker tournaments.

Heads up, mano a mano, one on one. From July 5 through August 1, WSOP.com is offering special leaderboard rewards to online poker players going for it against one other opponent.

Every week — for four qualifying weeks in a row — there will be $1,000 in WSOP.com online tournament tickets awarded to the top 10 leaderboard finishers.

The promotion begins during the waning days of the WSOP.com NJ Online Championships.

New opportunities to win each week

Prizes offered range from a $10 tournament ticket up to $270 in multiple tournament tickets for the player who reaches the top of the leaderboard each week.

Each week in July gives players a new opportunity to climb their way to the top and grab their share of the prizes.

One leaderboard point is awarded for every win, so the more wins you rack up, the higher you’ll rise up in the rankings.

Important details in the WSOP promotion

Leaderboard eligibility is based only on heads up sit & go tourneys. No other game types will qualify for this promotion.

Final leaderboard rankings will be given on the website within 24 hours of the end of the promo, with the top 10 places receiving the following prizes weekly:

  1. $270 (1 – $200 tournament ticket, 7 – $10 tournament tickets)
  2. $190 (1 – $100 tournament ticket, 9- $10 tournament tickets)
  3. $145 (1- $100 tournament ticket, 4 – $10 tournament tickets, 1 – $5 tournament ticket)
  4. $115 (1 – $100 tournament ticket, 1 – $10 tournament ticket, 1 – $5 tournament ticket)
  5. $90 (9 – $10 tournament tickets)
  6. $70 (7- $10 tournament tickets)
  7. $50 (5 – $10 tournament tickets)
  8. $35 (3 – $10 tournament tickets , 1 – $5 tournament ticket)
  9. $25 (2 – $10 tournament tickets, 1- $5 tournament tickets)
  10. $10 (1 – $10 tournament tickets)

Winners will receive confirmation emails within 48 hours of the end of the promo. Players can also check their ranking by contacting WSOP.com support at 1-855-218-6232.

Prizes will be awarded into the player’s account at the end of each scheduled week, after leaderboard positions are posted.

Is the latest WSOP.com promotion worth playing?

If your preferred format of play is heads lp, then this leaderboard promo is ideal. There also doesn’t appear to be a minimum buy-in requirement, meaning players can participate and win at all stakes.

This particular WSOP.com leaderboard promo differs in that the positions are awarded based on number of wins rather than just Action Player Points accrued, due to the one-on-one format.

If you’re a seasoned heads-up player, there’s a lot of potential to climb high in the leaderboards and score heaps of tournament tickets.

If you’re not very familiar with heads up and want to give it a try, this is also a good incentive to try it out, as you could score a few extra tournament tickets on top of your winnings, without needing a big bankroll.

New Jersey Leads The US In Online Gambling; Will Others Follow Eventually?

New Jersey has demonstrated its model for online gambling can generate meaningful revenue in a state with enough players.

Now that state-regulated online gambling and poker is in its third year of operation, little has changed since the first year.

In 2013, three states took advantage of the opportunity — Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey — and as of mid-2016, the option is still available in the same three states and no others. While New Jersey and Delaware both offer players a choice of casino gambling or poker, Nevada regulated online gambling is limited to poker only.

How state-run online gambling is faring in the U.S. so far

New Jersey, the last of the three states so far to launch online gambling, continues to lead the other two big time both in number of sites and total revenue. (Here are May’s numbers, for instance.)

In New Jersey, five operators (Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Caesars Interactive Entertainment – NJ, Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Resorts Casino Hotel, and Tropicana Casino & Resort) are currently offering a total of 12 online casinos and five online poker rooms.

These numbers are in striking contrast to online gambling in Nevada and Delaware. In Nevada, two operators, WSOP.com and Real Gaming, each have a poker site, with WSOP accounting for about 99 percent of the business.

In Delaware, all online gambling is under the control of the Delaware State Lottery in partnership with 888 Holdings. Each of the three licensed racinos in the state — Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway and Casino — offers online gambling for both casino games and poker.

Even though the initial revenue generated by online gambling fell far short of the projections in all three states, there has been a steady growth — demonstrably in New Jersey, and to a lesser extent in Delaware.

During its first full year of operation, NJ online gambling took in a total of $122 million. During the calendar year 2015, NJ iGaming generated $148.8 million in revenue, 21 percent higher than the total for 2014. The figures so far for 2016 suggest continued growth, up an impressive 29 percent from last year.

The first full year of online gambling in Delaware generated $1.4 million, followed by an increase to $1.8 million in revenue for the calendar year 2015. As for 2016, the most recent figures released by the Delaware Lottery show that total iGaming revenue has established new records for three consecutive months (March, April, and May).

A major contributing factor to the growth in online gambling revenue in Delaware in both 2015 and 2016 has been the combined poker player pool with Nevada online players.  Previously, there simply weren’t enough players to make the Delaware online poker games an attractive option.

Nevada stopped issuing separate reports for iGaming revenue at the end of 2014, but the relative contribution of online poker to the state’s total gambling market, which is estimated at $11 billion, is believed to be negligible. But in fairness to both Nevada and Delaware, there is no way that either of these states could have come close to achieving New Jersey’s success because the Garden State has about triple the population of Nevada and Delaware combined.

Meanwhile several other states are currently offering online lottery ticket purchases but have not made the decision to offer online casino gambling or poker. The states to keep an eye on as the most likely next group for the second wave of legalized state-run online gambling in this country are Pennsylvania, New York and California.

Casino online gambling doing very well in NJ, poker not so well

When online gambling was still in its infancy, the primary focus was on poker, with full-scale online casino gambling not taking off later.

However, despite NJ online players now having a choice of five poker rooms, the newest of which is the Resorts-run PokerStars, online poker has proven a tougher sell. In comparison to online casino gambling, which NJ players can’t seem to get enough of, the revenue coming in from online poker is lackluster.

This trend is apparent in the figures reported for 2015. Total online casino revenue in New Jersey for 2015 amounted to $125 million, up 33 percent from 2014, while poker revenue actually fell 18 percent to $23.8 million.

On the other hand, during its first month of operation — March 2016 — the long-awaited return of PokerStars.com to the U.S. resulted in tremendous traffic on that site. But now that the novelty has worn off somewhat, the extent to which PokerStars can keep up the momentum is uncertain. Meanwhile, the other NJ online poker rooms need to do a lot more to generate more traffic to their own sites to remain competitive.

Another notable but not surprising finding is the much stronger contribution of slots as compared to table games to online casino revenue.

At the NJ online casinos, approximately 70 percent of the revenue comes from slots, compared to 30 percent from table games. Just like in the Atlantic City land-based casinos, the online casinos have consistently offered many more slot games than table games. And when new games are being introduced online, those are also much more likely to be a slot game.

Furthermore, slot play earns comp points at a much faster rate than table games, and the wagering requirements to clear bonuses are much lower for slots than for table games (and sometimes table games don’t count at all). Accordingly, there is little incentive to play the latter.

At the Delaware online casinos, the recently reported increases in revenue come from increased play on the video lottery terminals and also from poker, with the combined Delaware and Nevada player pool making that option more attractive. However, table game revenue has declined.

Unlike many online casinos run by offshore operators, neither the New Jersey online casinos nor the Delaware online casinos offer any live dealer games. This feature, perhaps more than any other, adds an element of fun and excitement to online table game play, making it a highly entertaining social experience closely resembling playing the same table games in a real casino.

The addition of this option in New Jersey and Delaware could go a long way towards generating increased interest in online table game play.

Online and mobile gambling are bringing more players to Atlantic City

According to Stephen Sweeney, president of the New Jersey State Senate and a keynote speaker at the East Coast Gaming Congress & iGaming Institute, “Atlantic City is on the rebound.”

Even in the face of increased competition from casinos in other states, and elsewhere in New Jersey, if the referendum to expand casino gambling to two casinos in North Jersey gets passed, he is optimistic about Atlantic City’s future.

Another speaking at the conference, Luisa Woods, Executive Director of Online and Internet Marketing at Tropicana Atlantic City, aid that previously inactive players or players who had never come to the property in Atlantic City are now coming due to their online and mobile gambling.

Also, many people who are coming to the casino to play are now playing online as well. At the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, according to Vice President of Online Gambling Thomas Winter, 80 percent of those who play at the Golden Nugget Online Casino are also coming to the Atlantic City casino, where play has increased 20 percent as a direct result.

Ongoing concerns and challenges facing state-regulated online casino operators

The reluctance of other states to go full speed ahead in trying to push legalized online casinos and poker rooms is probably due in part to the recognition of the difficult challenges facing them. These are the same kinds of challenges which New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have had to face from Day 1, including all of the following:

  • Geolocation
  • Underage gambling
  • Dealing with fraud and duplicate accounts
  • Problems faced by players when trying to use credit cards to fund their accounts
  • Need to get the word out to more people to keep attracting new players
  • Keeping away illegal foreign operators trying to infiltrate the market

Tight regulation is key

All three states where state-regulated online gambling is now legal impose a minimum age requirement of 21. All three states also require that at the time of play, the individual must be physically located in the applicable state, and Delaware requires in addition that the player must reside in Delaware.

Geolocation can get tricky at times. For example, initially, geolocation was causing a lot of problems in New Jersey with individuals who were very close to state borders, but the system is working much better now.

All three states use Know Your Customer (KYC) programs to verify customers’ identity, age, location and eligibility to play. Some players might be annoyed by all the checking and double checking, but the tight security system ultimately works for the benefit of the casinos and players alike.

According to New Jersey law, players whose age and identity cannot be verified by means of a standard KYC check must submit two forms of ID, one of which must be government issued with a picture and signature. In addition, all online players in New Jersey need to enter a PIN and answer two security questions in order to be permitted to log in to a site and play online for real money. Penalties for violators can range from exclusion to fines, forfeiture of winnings and jail time.

The New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement (NJDGE) is also concerned about infiltration from unauthorized foreign operators NJDGE Director David Rebuck wants to impose huge penalties to put fear into these operators.

Rebuck, addressing East Coast Gaming Conference and iGaming Institute attendees, stated that that New Jersey has a great working relationship with other jurisdictions that may offer online gambling in the near future. He believes that they are equally interested in making sure that the foreign operators are shut out of their own potential market.

Account funding shouldn’t be a hassle

Gamblers are by nature impatient, so whenever making deposits and withdrawals to one’s account becomes too much of a hassle, they will be inclined not to bother.

Payment processing problems are still occurring due to the continued lack of acceptance of legalized online gambling by some credit cards and banks. However, the frequency with which players are reporting this problem is gradually decreasing.

Initially in New Jersey, players were having a tough time using their credit cards to fund their accounts. However, MasterCard is now approving 70 percent of all transactions, and Visa about 62 percent. Players can also use their PayPal account.

Surprisingly, a lot of NJ players still don’t know that they can gamble online

All in all, Rebuck said he is very pleased with the performance of online gambling in New Jersey. He is so pleased, in fact, that he thinks other states should look to its program as a model for what they need to do themselves to establish and maintain a well-regulated online gambling industry.

However, even in New Jersey, there is plenty of room for improvement. Surprisingly, a lot of people in the state are still unaware of the online gambling option. So states and operators need to get the word out to more potential players. One recent trend that should help is the increased use of cross-promotions that encourage Atlantic City casino players to also play online, and vice versa.

TropicanaCasino.com Star Spangled Bonus Fires Up For Fourth Of July

TropicanaCasino.com gives you the chance to win a share of $10,000 in bonus money with two prize draws in one promotion.

TropicanaCasino.com gives you the chance to win share of $10,000 in bonus money with two prize draws in one promotion as part of its ongoing $150K Summer Heatwave promotional series.

From June 27 through July 4, players can win a share of $8,000 in bonus money on TropicanaCasino.com as part of its Star Spangled Bonus promo. There is an additional $2,000 in prizes for players wagering on the Tropicana mobile app.

Tropicana is one of several Atlantic City casinos that also offers NJ online gambling.

How to play the Star Spangled Bonus promo

There are two easy ways to get your share of a total of $10,000 in bonus money just for playing your favorite online casino games. No promotional codes necessary, and there is no need to opt in.

If you’re wagering on TropicanaCasino.com via your PC or Mac, simply play your favorite online casino games from June 27 through July 4.

Each time you wager $50 on 90 Ball Bingo, slots or on any other games, you’ll earn one entry into the $8,000 Bonus Money sweepstakes. Entries are capped at up to three per day.

On July 5, 110 players will be randomly selected to win the following Bonus Money Rewards:

  • 1: $1,000 Bonus Money
  • 4: $500 Bonus Money
  • 5: $200 Bonus Money
  • 10: $100 Bonus Money
  • 40: $50 Bonus Money
  • 50: $20 Bonus Money

If you’re playing the Tropicana Casino mobile app, the same rules and requirements still apply ($50 wagers on any games and entries are also capped at three per day). But the prize structure is different for the $2,000 Mobile Bonus Money prize draw:

  • 1: $500 Bonus Money
  • 4: $250 Bonus Money
  • 5: $100 Bonus Money

The fine print

Any rewards from the Star Spangled Bonus promotion will be credited to your account within 24 hours of July 5.

Bonus money must be played online, cannot be redeemable for cash and will expire after 30 days.

Players must wager once through bonus money on any games on the TropicanaCasino.com website.

Is the Star Spangled Bonus promotion worth playing?

The prize structure is more generous when going for a share of $8,000 in bonus money if you’re playing on your computer. However, players may also earn up to three more entries for a share of $2,000 in bonus money by playing on the mobile app.

If you’re new to mobile casino gaming, this is a great incentive to give the app a go.

Prizes are mostly higher than the average entry-based online casino promotion, and begin at $20 in bonus money. In many drawing-based promos, a single top prize is $500 in bonus money.

For the TropicanaCasino.com Star Spangled Bonus Promo, four lucky players can win $500 in bonus money, with one very lucky top-prize winner getting their name drawn to win $1,000.

Strike Avoided? Atlantic City Union Reaches Deal With Four Of Five Casinos

A possibility of a strike was avoided at four of Atlantic City’s casinos, with the prospect of a work stoppage still in play at Trump Taj Mahal.

The tenuous landscape that is the casino-studded shoreline of Atlantic City took another hit earlier this month when members of the UNITE HERE Local 54 union approved a July 1 strike.

However, this morning the union was able to reach a “tentative agreement” with Bally’s, Caesers and Harrah’s, and a deal with the Tropicana later in the day. That leaves the Trump Taj Mahal as the only affected casino that has not yet reached a compromise with the union.

Borgata, Resorts and Golden Nugget are currently not under threat of a work stoppage.

The background: Local 54’s original announcement

Should the Taj Mahal fail to reach an agreement, it will be the union’s first works stoppage since 2004.

A video posted to Local Local 54’s Facebook page on June 22 shows the initial announcement of the pending strike:

“(Workers) from Tropicana, Caesers, Harrah’s and Bally’s voted to authorize a strike. Ninety-six percent of those workers voted to authorize a strike … on July 1st if they don’t have a fair contract.,” a spokesperson said in the video.

Shortly after the speech, the video revealed a statistic that said more than 6,000 workers could walk off the job the first day of July. That number, however, will decrease significantly if the tentative agreements go through.

The contract: Why Local 54 want voted for a strike

The Associated Press reported that workers are fighting to gain back various benefits they had gone without for the past few years:

  • Health benefits
  • Pensions
  • Vacation and other time off
  • Salary increases

The union was quoted as saying “its members have seen their salaries increase by only 80 cents per hour since 2004.”

A radio advertisement posted on Local 54’s website elaborates on the reasons behind the potential strike.

“Atlantic City casino workers sacrificed a lot when times were tight for our industry and our community,” a woman’s voice says. “Now, things are getting better — for the casinos … Nobody wants a strike, but we have to stand up for our families.”

Local 54 President: “Stalinist state…”

According to a June 28 article from Forbes contributor and Florida-based lawyer Darren Heitner, Trump Taj Mahal may be “ground zero” for the strike since workers there have no health-care or pension benefits.

Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54, was quoted as saying his members were fed up with missing out on raises for 10 years and that “we’re not in a Stalinist state where you can force workers to work for whatever you say.”

Heitner: Last-minute deal “wouldn’t be surprising”

Heitner, who has written about collective bargaining agreements in the NFL, NBA and NHL, spoke with N.J. Gambling Sites yesterday. When asked if he believed the strike would materialize, Heitner said the threat was real but that he expected the compromise that transpired today.

“It wouldn’t be shocking if, within the next 48 hours, we do see some settlement on terms. The general assumption is that we won’t see a deal,” he said before today’s events. “But, that said, this is typical of labor disputes. The parties won’t figure out a compromise until the very last minute when there’s a realization that the strike will occur and time is of the essence.”

Statistics show strong first quarter for casinos

A first-quarter statistical summary provided by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement revealed that seven of the city’s eight casinos saw increases in gross operating profit compared to the same quarter in 2015.

In the wake of these statistics, New Jersey Casino Control Commission Chairman Matt Levinson told the Associated Press he felt the numbers showed that “Atlantic City’s casino industry is alive and quite well.” He went on to say the first-quarter numbers showed “an indication that the market is stabilizing after several years of turmoil.”

Heitner said in his Forbes article he believes these statistics played a part in the union’s decision to move forward with the strike.

Gross operating profits for the city’s five casinos went up significantly in 2015 as well, with Golden Nugget posting a more than 320-percent increase and Caesers posting a 143.7-percent increase.

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